Pioneering small-group learning in Tanzanian emergency medicine: Investigating acceptability for physician learners

A G Lim, H Geduld, K Checkett, H R Sawe, T A Reynolds


Background. Emergency medicine (EM) is a relatively new, but growing medical specialty in sub-Saharan Africa. African EM training programmes have used small-group learning (SGL) modalities in their curricula. However, there is little knowledge of whether SGL modalities are perceived to be effective in these African EM training programmes.
Objectives. To investigate the acceptability of SGL for physicians’ training in an academic Tanzanian emergency department using a novel EM curriculum.
Methods. Using responses to a written questionnaire, we explored the perceived effectiveness of SGL compared with traditional didactic lectures among 38 emergency department physician learners in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Perceptions of SGL were identified from qualitative responses, and regression analyses were used to determine strength of association between quantitative outcomes.
Results. Reported benefits of SGL included team building, simulation training, enhancement of procedural skills, and the opportunity to discuss opinions on clinical management. SGL scored more favourably with regard to improving clinical practice, enjoyment of learning, and building peer-to-peer relations. Lectures scored more favourably at improving medical knowledge. Preference towards SGL over lectures for overall training increased with years of clinical experience (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.16 - 0.62, p=0.002, Spearman’s rho 0.51), and the perception that SGL reinforces learner-teacher relationships correlated with seniority within residency training (95% CI 0.14 - 0.86, p=0.007, Spearman’s rho 0.47).
Conclusion. Techniques of SGL were perceived as effective at improving clinical practice in the emergency department setting. These modalities may be more favourably accepted by more experienced physician learners – therefore, new EM teaching programmes in Africa should consider these factors when targeting educational strategies for their respective regions and learner cohorts.

Authors' affiliations

A G Lim, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

H Geduld, Education and Training, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

K Checkett, Section of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Ill, USA

H R Sawe, Emergency Medicine, Muhimbili National Hospital, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

T A Reynolds, Emergency and Trauma Care Programme, World Health Organization Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, Geneva, Switzerland; and Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

Full Text

PDF (88KB)


Small-group learning; Tanzania; Emergency medicine; Simulation; East Africa

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2017;9(1):24-28. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2017.v9i1.692

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-10-28
Date published: 2017-02-26

Article Views

Abstract views: 10363
Full text views: 3554

Comments on this article

*Read our policy for posting comments here